Gender and Archaeology


Gender studies in archaeological research have been increasingly integrated into standard archaeological practice since the initial critical studies in the late 1980s made it clear that the traditional androcentric approach to this fundamental structuring social variable was significantly skewing our interpretations of past societies. My initial foray into this territory was a publication in response to an egregious example of gender bias, an interpretation of the early Iron Age high status burial of Vix in Burgundy. My PhD thesis allowed me to explore possible ways to approach gender in archaeological mortuary contexts, a topic I have published on extensively and continue to actively research today.

Several of my PhD and Masters students have chosen topics related to gender as an interpretive category, including an extensive analysis of burial ritual in Dorset, England just before, during and after the Roman Conquest as a proxy for social change on a larger scale. Some have opted to use iconographic representation as a starting point for developing hypotheses about gender ideology while others have made use of text-aided archaeological evidence. Current student projects are focused on developing ways to approach archaeological data sets from an intersectional perspective that can better accommodate the multi-vocality of material culture and its transformation by the mortuary context.

Selected Publications

2021. “Man the hunter and field archaeologist vs. woman the gatherer and laboratory analyst”, pp. 14-15; and “Men were active producers of tools, art and innovation, while women were passive home-bound breeders”, pp. 10-11. In: Laura Coltofean-Arizancu, Bisserka Gaydarska and Uroš Matić (eds), Gender Stereotypes in Archaeology. A Short Reflection in Image and Text. Leiden, Sidestone Press. Free download available:

2020. Intersectionality and elite identity in Iron Age west-central European mortuary contexts. In Patrice Brun, Bruno Chaume and Federica Sacchetti (eds), Vix et le Phenomene Princier. Colloque international de Châtillon-sur-Seine, France, pp. 299-309. Préhistoires de la Méditerranée. Una Éditions, Bordeaux.

2016. Paramount elites and gender studies in Iron Age Europe. In D. Krausse, M. Fernández-Götz, L. Hansen and I. Kretschmer (eds), The Heuneburg and the Early Iron Age Princely Seats: First Towns North of the Alps, pp. 169-174. Budapest: Archaeolingua.

2016. Belts vs. blades: the binary bind in Iron Age southwest German mortuary contexts. In Lara Ghisleni, Alexis M. Jordan, Emily Fioccoprile (eds), Special issue “Binary Binds”: Deconstructing Sex and Gender Dichotomies in Archaeological Practice, Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 23(2), 832-853.

2012. The Vix Princess redux: a retrospective on European Iron Age gender and mortuary studies. In Lourdes Prados Torreira (ed.), La Arqueología funeraria desde una perspectiva de género, pp. 215-232. Madrid: UA Ediciones.

2012. Gender and temporality in Iron Age west-central Europe. In Mary Jo Maynes and Marynel Ryan (eds), Temporalities and Periodization in Human History: Conversations across the Disciplines of History and Archaeology Special Section Social Science History 36(1): 85-112.

2006. Gender in mortuary ritual. In Sarah M. Nelson (ed.), Reader in Gender Archaeology, pp. 137-170. Walnut Creek: AltaMira.

2002. “Sein und Werden”: Gender as Process in Mortuary Ritual. In Sarah Nelson and Myriam Rosen-Ayalon (eds), In Pursuit of Gender: Worldwide Archaeological Approaches, pp. 239-256. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press.

2001. Gender and the Archaeology of Death, Bettina Arnold and Nancy L. Wicker (eds). Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press.

1999. From the Ground Up: Beyond Gender Theory in Archaeology, Nancy L. Wicker and Bettina Arnold (eds). British Archaeological Reports International Series 812. Oxford: Archaeopress.

1996. “Honorary males” or women of substance? Gender, status and power in Iron Age Europe. Journal of European Archaeology 3(2): 153-168. Ayrshire: Cruithne Press.

1991. The deposed princess of Vix: The need for an engendered European prehistory. In Dale Walde and Noreen D. Willows (eds), The Archaeology of Gender: Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Chacmool Conference, pp. 366-374. Calgary: University of Calgary.